In 2010 the Virginia Tech swimming and diving teams moved their home to the Christiansburg Aquatic Center after decades at the pool inside War Memorial Gym on Virginia Tech campus. Built in cooperation with the town of Christiansburg and Virginia Tech, the 64,000 square-foot facility features a full-size, 50-meter Olympic-style pool – double the length of the pool at their previous location. The facility also features two 1-meter springboards, two 3-meter springboards and a diving tower with 5-, 7.5- and 10-meter platforms. The venue can seat up to 1,000 spectators that can watch the swim meets on the massive scoreboard and video board adjacent to the diving boards and platforms.
In the winter of 2012, the facility drew conference-wide recognition by serving as the hosts for the ACC Championships. “We wanted to make sure we were capable of streaming live SD video to the cable networks, showing live HD video on our video board and still be able to make DVD copies for our participants,” explained Kevin Hicks, Director of Broadcasting and Visual Media at Virginia Tech.
After bringing in Jim Hogan of IES Commercial, Inc. – and a year of convincing, planning and designing – they installed an HD/SD Vaddio camera system. “Originally they wanted to put in a broadcast cable system for TV coverage,” says Hogan. “When it came down to it they thought, ‘Why put in all this expensive broadcast equipment when it might only be used once in a while – and they wanted the ability to do streaming with multiple cameras. We suggested the Vaddio systems.”
Four WallVIEW HD-19 cameras and a WallVIEW 100 camera are placed throughout the pool area. The original locations of the HD-19 cameras had to be altered in order to capture the height of both the low and high diving boards. One HD-19 is placed about 20 feet above the stands on the second level of the pool deck. Another camera is placed below the pool deck for shooting straight at the swimmers as they swim toward the camera, while an additional two HD-19 cameras capture both the stands and the diving platforms. The standard definition WallVIEW 100 sits about 20 feet above the pool deck for capturing the scoreboard showing swim meet results.
“There was concern about how the cameras would react to the moisture, as the swimming pool is a closed room,” stated Hogan. “We originally priced it with environmental closures, but due to budgetary constraints and having to run electricity, we ended up not doing so. But it ended up not being an issue at all. Even though the cameras are around an indoor swimming facility, its pretty dry, so the Vaddio cameras ended up working well in the conditions.”
The cameras are controlled by a ProductionVIEW HD MV camera control switcher/mixer with a built-in multiviewer. The system works really smoothly explains Hicks. “We were able to easily bring in and mix both the standard definition and high definition outputs from the different cameras. Streaming the video in SD and displaying the HD video on the video board was really big for us.”
Hicks is streaming with Windows Media Encoder and a deal with CBS Sports Interactive hosts the videos online.
“We’ve been very happy with the final products. What was kind of neat about it was the fact that Kevin wasn’t really interested in Vaddio, being a broadcast guy. He kept making these other suggestions and I said, ‘Come on man, give it a chance and check it out – and he is so happy and tickled to death with the way it works.”